How to do a Holistic Personal Finance Annual Review

How to do a Holistic Personal Finance Annual Review
Holistic Personal Finance Annual Review
St. Andrew’s Hospital East Melbourne. Annual General Meeting, 24 September 1973. Photo by Dennis Mayor (1922 -).  Dennis Mayor collection of Photographs. State Library of Victoria.

Here in Australia, we’ve only got another three weeks to lodge our tax returns, so it seems like a good idea to talk a little about the kind of personal finance annual review you could be doing to improve your future.

Annual Review

The main reason I’m linking your annual review to the fiscal year is that we often get carried away in a New Year’s haze of alcohol and make resolutions we haven’t thought through and are very likely to forget within days if not hours of making them.

What I’m talking about is more along the lines of your own personal Annual General Meeting. Once you’ve reviewed your Net Worth, you can think through the related issues.

And if your life and finances are enmeshed with someone else’s, it’s a good idea to include them, so you’re both heading in the same direction.

Vision, Mission and Virtues

Life changes more often than you think, one small thing can set off a chain reaction that spins you on your access. So decide whether your vision is still the correct one for you and whether your mission and virtues still support your vision.


Of course, is your vision is changing, your goals probably are too. And even if you carry them over, you may need to change the type of goal and the way you work towards it.

Credit Reference Files

This year, two companies that I’ve had dealings with have been hacked, and my personal and financial information could be out there. It’s possible that someone is stealing my identity. It’s also possible that someone else’s applications and defaults have been mistakenly listed on my file.

For this reason, you should check your credit reference files at least annually, and if necessary take steps to clean up errors and fraudulent applications before the situation gets out of hand.

Household Inventory

There are a lot of good reasons for having an up to date list of exactly what stuff you own. You’ll:

  • Know where your money’s going.
  • Know what you can sell if you need quick cash.
  • Know when to replace appliances.
  • Know what insurance cover you need.
  • Have evidence to support your insurance claim.
  • Have a list of valuables so you can start thinking about who’ll get them when you die.

Investment Philosophy and Portfolio

You don’t need a lot of money to have an investment philosophy. It’s partly some vision and virtue based decisions about where to put the money you don’t need right now. And partly about choosing appropriate banks, insurance companies and other service providers based on how well their values support yours.

If you do have some investments, this is the time to consider rebalancing them (real estate, stocks and bonds) as well as whether you’re comfortable with the level of risk you’re exposed to.

Risk Management Plan

Just as life changes, your risks change too, so you need to rethink how you manage them. This might be as simple as ensuring that your insurance coverage is adequate, but if you’ve:

  • Bought a home, you might need to think about bushfire or hurricane contingency plans.
  • Married, you could choose to change the titling of your assets.
  • Had children, consider how to protect them.
  • Divorced, changing your will.

Will and Estate Arrangements

Making sure that your deceased (or live) estate reflects your family’s composition and meets your moral obligations is important. Not to mention any wishes you have for yourself when it comes to long-term medical care and organ donation should you be unable to speak for yourself.


So often we rush from crisis to crisis, and don’t make the time to acknowledge our success. Some years, just getting to the end of it intact is a significant achievement that really needs to be acknowledged.

My friend Katy makes a year book. Every month she makes up a few pages to mark what happened. She sticks in photos, show tickets, the labels from wine bottles, cards and letters and so on. And then at the end of the year, she looks through it and congratulates herself on all that she’s achieved.


In days gone by, a business Annual General Meeting was required to vote to “Accept” the reports. I suppose this was to acknowledge them as a true and accurate record of the year’s activities. And I’m not sure what would have happened if the motion wasn’t carried.

But this gives you an opportunity to acknowledge that the year didn’t quite go to your plan. Forgive yourself, apologise if necessary, learn from your mistakes and move on.


Taking time to review the year allows you to avoid being trapped in one of those pesky time loops, repeating the same mistakes year after year, never growing or changing.

Do you do an annual review?

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